These pumpkin oatmeal bars with lentils are high in protein and low in sugar. Moist and packed with the flavors of fall, these make for a delicious no fuss breakfast or snack for your baby and kids.
I want to tell you upfront that this recipe is NOT sweet. It is pumpkin forward and you will taste the lentils. And as with all my baked good recipes, this is intentional. Since babies are born with innate preferences for sweets, I really try to develop recipes that allow for the other flavor profiles to shine through.
They also have more tastebuds than us, adults. So while these pumpkin bars may not taste sweet to us, our babies may think otherwise ;).
But if you do desire a sweeter recipe, then I offer suggestions below!
Note: just mentioning those that need further explanation:
Rolled oats - As you probably already know, I LOVE to bake with oats because they're loaded with nutrition and provide an extra-soft texture. While you can purchase oat flour, making it at home is so easy and much cheaper!
Pumpkin pie spice - for that warm fall flavor! it’s a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
Cinnamon - although it's included in the pumpkin pie spice, add extra!
Ground flaxseeds - A great source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iron, zinc, and fiber. Ground flaxseeds are easier to digest as whole flaxseed may pass through the intestine undigested. I recommend purchasing flaxseeds whole and grind them as needed.
This is because once ground, it spoils fast, and there's no way of knowing how long that bag of ground flaxseeds has been sitting at the store.
Red lentils - One of the top foods to serve to babies as they're a great source of iron, fiber, and protein. There's no need to pre-soak.
Pumpkin - you can use fresh or canned pumpkin puree. If using the latter, be sure it is NOT pumpkin pie filling which contains sugar. To switch things up, you can also substitute with sweet potatoes or winter squash like butternut squash and kabocha.
Milk - use whole fat cow's milk as babies need all the fat for proper brain development. You can substitute with non-dairy alternatives.
Unsweetened applesauce - make sure the only ingredient is apples. This is the only sweetener in the recipe. If you desire a sweeter treat, see suggestions below. You can also substitute with equal amounts of mashed banana.
Pecans - I just love the combination of pumpkin and pecans. Be sure to finely chop for babies. You can substitute with walnuts if you prefer, or leave out completely.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Combine ground oats, spices, baking powder, and ground flaxseeds
2. Add cooked lentils, pumpkin, milk, applesauce, and vanilla into a food processor/blender and process until smooth
3. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Fold in pecans.
4. Pour into a lined 9 inch square pan
5. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. Cool before slicing!
Tips for customizing to your needs
I recommend cooking the lentils ahead of time so it's one less thing to do the day of. You can also cook up a large batch and enjoy throughout the week! It keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days and freezes well, too.
Also ground a large batch of flax seeds (I like to use this tool) and keep in the fridge/freezer to extend shelf-life.
Make ahead, if possible!
These pumpkin bars actually taste better with time as the spices become more pronounced and all the flavors meld together. You can't really taste all those yummy fall flavors right out of the oven. So if able, I suggest making this at least several hours prior to enjoying. See below for the best way to store.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can certainly use non-dairy alternatives! Here are my top two recommendations
Make sure the oats are certified gluten-free to ensure they haven't been processed in the same facility with gluten-containing grains.
Yes! I used flaxseeds because so many of you have been requesting egg-free recipes. However, if there's no egg allergy, I do recommend replacing with 1 egg as the bars will be more moist.
Simply leave out the flaxseeds and add the eggs to the blender along with pumpkin, applesauce, and milk.
I highly suggest trying this recipe as is the first time around. My baby absolutely loves these and so does my toddler.
I will be honest and tell you, my husband not so much. But when I add extra sweeteners, he's all in. Here are my suggestions if you want to sweeten these up:
Follow the recipe as is, then top with mashed or pureed fruit, date syrup, or drizzle some maple syrup (best to avoid added sugars until 2 years of age)
Or, to the recipe, add either: 4-5 medjool dates (be sure to soak in hot water to help soften before blending), 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey (NOT for babies under 1 yo), or chocolate chips for older kids
Serving Suggestions for kids
These pumpkin-flavored baby oatmeal bars are so versatile! It really is a good base recipe that you can enjoy as is or customize to your liking (e.g. add more nuts, seeds, coconut, fruit, chocolate chips, etc.)
Transfer to an airtight container and keep in fridge for up to 5 days. The texture will become more dense so rather than eating straight from the fridge, I suggest bringing to room temperature or reheating briefly in the microwave (30 seconds or so) or the toaster oven.
You can also freeze for up to 3 months. Flash freeze so you can easily pull out however many you need. Thaw in the fridge and bring to room temperature. If you want to reheat, again, do so briefly.
Other Oat Recipes for babies and kids
- Sweet and savory overnight oats
- Microwave egg oatmeals
- Savory baked oatmeal with veggies
- Healthy baby muffins
Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars with Lentils
- ½ cup dry red lentils, (95g uncooked, 265g cooked and weighed after cooled)
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups (200g) rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
- 1 cup (230g) canned pumpkin
- 1 cup whole fat milk
- ½ cup (110g) unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup (40g) finely chopped pecans
- Add lentils and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper for easy removal. Set aside.
- Pulse the oats in a food processor/blender until it turns into flour. Pour into a large bowl and combine with pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, and ground flaxseeds.
- Add cooled lentils, pumpkin, milk, applesauce, and vanilla extract into the food processor/blender and process until smooth.
- Pour into the bowl with the oatmeal mixture. Do not overmix. Fold in pecans.
- Pour the batter into baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes until the center is set and the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow for it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. COOL COMPLETELY before slicing.
- dairy-free? Here are my top two recommendations
- gluten-free? used certified gluten-free oats
- sweeter? I highly suggest trying the recipe as is the first time around. You can always serve with sweet toppings like mashed banana, applesauce, date syrup etc.
- If you want to sweeten the bars themselves:
- add EITHER 4-5 medjool dates (be sure to soak in hot water to help soften), 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup, or chocolate chips for older kids
- If you want to sweeten the bars themselves:
- Transfer to an airtight container and keep in fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature or reheat briefly in the microwave (30 seconds or so) or the toaster oven.
- Freeze for up to 3 months